Latest NSK Portal: “NSK Digital Collections”

Objavljeno 4.5.2016.

The NSK Digital Collections, the latest portal of the National and University Library in Zagreb, was presented as part of the Sixth Festival of Croatian Digitisation Projects.

The portal has been set up in order to bring together through a single point of access all collections of digital and digitised material which the Library is continually developing through digital legal deposit and its digitisation programme.

Wishing to bring valuable cultural heritage that it preserves closer to its users and the wider public, the National and University Library in Zagreb has been digitising its holdings since the beginning of the 1990s. In 1992 the Library’s digitisation team digitised approximately 3640 Croatian and foreign newspaper articles on Croatia’ Homeland War. This initial undertaking got its sequel in 1995, when the Library digitised 200 drawings from its Print Collection. In 2001 the Library ran a pilot project using borrowed digital scanning equipment as a result of which some sixty works from the Library’s special collections were digitised and a selection of this digitised material was made available on a CD-ROM.

The 2004 acquirement of a book scanner marked the beginning of the Library’s regular digitisation programme, which has so far included several digitisation projects focusing on different types of library resources – historic newspapers and journals, 78 rpm gramophone records, Croatian manuscripts held by institutions located outside Croatia, postcards, the oldest doctoral dissertations defended at the University of Zagreb, maps, and other types of library material. All these efforts resulted in dozens of terabytes of digital content, which captures in digital form the most valuable resources making part of Croatian cultural and scientific heritage which are preserved by the Library – from invaluable manuscripts such as The Vinodol Code, works by Marko Marulić and Faust Vrančić, through a priceless collection of the Croatian incunabula and various grammar books, to electronic books by contemporary authors.

The entire digitisation process, whose principal aim is to make digitised content available to library users and the wider public, includes a lot more than the mere scanning of books. A lack of financial resources necessary for the setting up of an extensive infrastructure for digitised/digital content management resulted in the development of several specialised systems and theme-oriented portals featuring varied digital content. Although suited to the specific characteristics of different types of resources, such model of digital library development does not cover all types of resources in their entirety, nor does it provide a single point of access to the entire digital content available. Thus the Library set out to develop a comprehensive system for the management of digital content created as a result of the digitisation of holdings preserved in the Library’s special collections and a digital books management system, at the same time launching efforts to bring together its digital collections and theme-oriented portals by providing one central point of access, which has now become available as the NSK Digital Collections portal.

It provides access to varied digital content created as a result of the digitisation of various types of library resources – books, visual material, cartographic material, printed and manuscript music, music recordings, manuscripts, etc. – comprising a total of 1500 works. All digital content may be accessed either as part of one of 25 online collections available on the portal or as part of a specific project description. Other types of digital content, such as newspapers, journals, doctoral dissertations, final theses or archived web content, may be accessed through links to the Library’s other portals featuring these specific types of content.

The NSK Digital Collections portal is only the first step towards providing the Library’s users and the wider public with access to varied, but until now rather scattered valuable content. It is currently available in its beta version and is constantly being improved with the purpose of eventually creating a fully functional national digital library that will make available Croatia’s entire cultural and scientific heritage to the widest possible range of users.